St. Louis has whiffed on multiple big-name free agents this winter — see: Jason Heyward, David Price — but it appears the defending National League Central champions are leading the pursuit for popular South Korean reliever Seung-Hwan Oh.
According to Daniel Kim of KBSn, the Cardinals have shown serious interest in Oh “from the get go” and “all signs point to” them finalizing a deal with the 33-year-old right-hander at some point in the near future.
Oh boasts a 1.81 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 10.7 K/9 in 646 1/3 career innings between the Korea Baseball Organization and Japan’s Central League. He earned 41 saves last year for the Hanshin Tigers and has earned the nickname “Final Boss” for his prowess closing games around Asia.
Kim says Oh got on a plane Saturday bound for the United States.
He would work in a setup role for closer Trevor Rosenthal in St. Louis.
UPDATE, 11:48 A.M. ET: Oh is scheduled to undergo a physical for the Cardinals on Monday, per Kim. If it goes smoothly, the agreement will be officially announced.
As first reported by Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald and now confirmed by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Rangers have talked to the Marlins about acquiring outfielder Marcell Ozuna for right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez and another piece.
Rosenthal says the Rangers “need to add pitching, not subtract” so no deal is close. But this swap could grow legs if Texas can find a new starter soon.
Ozuna posted a disappointing .259/.308/.383 batting line with 10 home runs and 44 RBI in 123 games last summer for Miami after enjoying a breakout in 2014. A source told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick in November that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria “can’t stand” the 25-year-old outfielder, who will reach salary arbitration in 2017.
Gonzalez, 23, had a 3.90 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 67 innings (10 starts, four relief appearances) last season for the Rangers. He was the 23rd overall pick in the 2013 amateur draft.
In between all the Hall of Fame hoopla comes a rather significant signing.
According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Brewers have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free agent first baseman Chris Carter. It’ll be worth $2.5 million guaranteed.
Carter was non-tendered by the Astros in early December despite tallying 24 home runs in 2015 and 37 home runs the year before. He is not a good defender, struggles to hit for average, and owns a .312 career on-base percentage, but the 29-year-old’s power stroke should play well at Milwaukee’s Miller Park in 2016.
Carter could become attractive midseason trade bait for the rebuilding Brew Crew if he gets off to a hot start at the plate and is competent with the glove at first.
171 of his starts in Houston were at DH.
Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Howard were among a group of current and former professional athletes tied to performance-enhancing drugs in a documentary aired on Al Jazeera America last Sunday — the same documentary that linked Peyton Manning to HGH.
Manning has vehemently denied the claims. And now Zimmerman and Howard are taking legal action against the documentary’s creators, per Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
“Today I authorized my attorneys to file suit against Al Jazeera and its reporters,” Howard said Tuesday in a statement. “Their irresponsible reporting forced me to take this action to protect my name and to fight back against the spreading of these lies. I will have no further comment, as the filing itself contains all I need to say.”
“All of these statements concerning Mr. Zimmerman are categorically untrue,” reads the suit filed Monday for Zimmerman. “Mr. Zimmerman has never taken Delta 2, human growth hormone, or any other steroid or other performance-enhancing substance banned by the MLB.”
Major League Baseball is conducting a thorough investigation into the allegations.
Howard is owed $25 million from the Phillies in 2016 with a $10 million buyout for 2017. Zimmerman has four years and $60 million remaining on his contract with the Nationals.
Kelly Johnson opened the 2015 season with the Braves before moving to the Mets on July 24 as part of a four-player trade. Johnson also began his career with Atlanta back in 2005 and played there through 2009.
The Braves have entered into full rebuilding mode under new president John Hart and Johnson turns 34 years old next month, but there is talk of a reunion for 2016.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweeted Tuesday evening that Johnson and the Braves are having “continued discussions” about a contract, and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution says it’s a “better than 50/50 chance” the two sides work out a deal.
Johnson can play all around the diamond defensively, so he’s a decent fit for a team that figures to have a lot of moving parts. He posted a cool .750 OPS with 14 home runs and 47 RBI in 111 games between Atlanta and New York last summer.
A one- or two-year contract should do it.